Written for InclusionCloud.com
by Reed Jaylene
Employee burnout can be characterized by physical and mental exhaustion, feelings of inefficiency and incompetence, and a detachment or disengagement from work. A previous article on 10 Tips for Avoiding Burnout offers self-directed ways for burnout prevention and recovery, such as unplugging, exercising, and making time for self-care. However, it has also become imperative for industries to complement these personal changes at micro and organizational levels. The role of technology can be leveraged to alleviate burnout and help employees thrive and succeed in the workplace — here’s a look at how.
Businesses and organizations can adopt technology to automate processes and free up workers’ respective capacities. In the U.S. healthcare system, for example, health professionals suffering from administrative work can benefit from electronic health records (EHRs) with automated workflows and integrated data sources. Rather than copy-pasting and assembling patient information from various sources, they can access comprehensive data and hence have more time and focus on service delivery.
While the use of EHRs is specific to healthcare, it nevertheless sets a precedent for other industries to reevaluate whether the current technology they are using lives up to its promise of efficiency and optimization. The answer isn’t to simply deploy more technology, but to adopt the right technology that improves the user experience and productivity.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to alleviating burnout, so companies can look into customizing tech solutions with the help of systems analysts. A systems analyst’s role in a company is focused on designing the appropriate digital infrastructure in accordance with organizational culture and employee needs. They are expected to effectively and creatively bridge the gap between information technology (IT) and company leadership by training employees to use cutting-edge digital tools and assets.
Doing so allows the new or updated technology to be fully maximized and integrated into existing operations. Customized solutions can include upgraded cloud computing to provide seamless collaboration, or a new record-keeping software that replaces manual systems.
Facilitating the exchange of ideas
A workplace can easily become a breeding ground for burnout when employees are pressured to provide a steady stream of creative ideas. But creative burnout isn’t limited to fields like visual arts and content marketing — software developers and UI/UX designers, for example, are also expected to balance creativity and productivity in their work.
A way to address creative burnout is through technologies that facilitate brainstorming and ideation. Communication platforms like Slack can allow different teams or departments to pitch in fresh ideas, offering a chance to break out of a creative rut by working with new people and perspectives. Mind-mapping services and collaborative archives can also catalyze the free flow of ideas within a company or organization, as opposed to reinforcing information silos through workplace structures and hierarchies.
Offering employee assistance
As burnout can drastically affect employees’ mental health and well-being, organizations can help them cope through employee assistance programs (EAPs). Human resource professionals can use technology to broaden the reach and on-demand accessibility of their EAPs. For instance, employees can self-schedule appointments online, while also being given the freedom to choose the counseling format they want.
There are video sessions with mental health professionals, instant text or chat-based support with first responders, and even self-help platforms like mindfulness apps. HR departments and work-life teams must ensure that even with the integration of technology in EAPs and wellness initiatives, employees are not deprived of the human touch and connection they need during challenging times.
Now that we are moving away from conceptualizing burnout as an individual failure, businesses and organizations can be more equipped to care for their employees’ health and performance with the help of technology. As with all workplace matters, it always helps to tie in these digital solutions with feedback channels in order to continuously assess and improve their effectiveness.
After working as a human resources professional for a few years, Reed Jaylene is now a freelance writer who tackles topics on employee health and wellbeing. She’s also a firm believer in the power of yoga and meditation.